Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 508520
Title Cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation in the Upper Guinea forest, West Africa
Author(s) Fraser, James A.; Diabaté, Moussa; Narmah, Woulay; Beavogui, Pépé; Guilavogui, Kaman; Foresta, Hubert de; Braga Junqueira, Andre
Source Ecology and Society 21 (2016)3. - ISSN 1708-3087
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08738-210336
Department(s) Centre for Crop Systems Analysis
Chair Soil Biology and Biological Soil Quality
PE&RC
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Keyword(s) Anthropogenic landscapes - Conservation science - Cultural heritage - Ecosystem services - Sacred forests - Secondary forests
Abstract

The cultural valuation of biodiversity has taken on renewed importance over the last two decades as the ecosystem services framework has become widely adopted. Conservation initiatives increasingly use ecosystem service frameworks to render tropical forest landscapes and their peoples legible to market-oriented initiatives such as REDD+ and biodiversity offsetting schemes. Ecosystem service approaches have been widely criticized by scholars in the social sciences and humanities for their narrow focus on a small number of easily quantifiable and marketable services and a reductionist and sometimes simplistic approach to culture. We address the need to combine methods from each of the “three cultures” of natural science, quantitative social science, and qualitative social science/humanities in conceptualizing the relationship between cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation. We combine qualitative data with forest inventories and a quantitative index of cultural value to evaluate the relationship between cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation in Upper Guinea forest in Liberia, West Africa. Our study focuses on “sacred agroforests,” spaces that are associated with Mande macro-language speaking groups such as the Loma. We demonstrate that sacred agroforests are associated with different cultural values compared with secondary forests. Although biodiversity and biomass are similar, sacred agroforests exhibit a different species composition, especially of culturally salient species, increasing overall landscape agro-biodiversity. Sacred agroforests are also shaped and conserved by local cultural institutions revolving around ancestor worship, ritual, and the metaphysical conceptual category “salɛ.” We conclude that to understand the relationship between cultural valuation and biodiversity conservation, interpretivist approaches such as phenomenology should be employed alongside positivist ecosystem service frameworks.

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